Advocate, Caregiver & Coach: Patient Engagement Requires a Team Approach
By David Brown, Founder & CEO, VOX Telehealth
One of the most commonly used terms in healthcare today is “patient engagement.” Perhaps it is so prevalently used because every stakeholder – from healthcare providers and administrators to patients and caregivers to public and private payers – agrees that patient engagement is a good thing and provides undisputed benefits.
One thing about “patient engagement” that is less common, however, is the understanding of what it is, what it should be and how it needs to be done, in order to authentically impact the patient pathway and outcomes for acute episodes as well as treatment of chronic conditions.
Patient engagement often focuses on solutions targeting an individual – the patient. But this is an incomplete view of the patient engagement puzzle. Missing from this concept is the reality that patients rarely approach healthcare alone. From the clinical team within the healthcare facility to family members providing support and care to the numerous other advocates along the spectrum, the process of bringing someone to health or helping someone maintain their health generally involves a host of involved parties with varying levels of expertise. As a result, impactful engagement strategies that will authentically empower and manage patients to help them be productive partners in their health must be inclusive of the patients entire care “team.”
If the success of healthcare depended purely upon the ability of patients to navigate the system and be compliant with their physicians’ protocols, then it would be designed to fail. Many patients receiving care are nervous, uncomfortable or in pain, compromising their ability to comprehend and retain all of the medical information and instruction provided by their caregivers. A 2003 paper in Britain’s Journal of the Royal Science found that patients immediately forgot between 40 and 80 percent of the medical information they received and often were incorrect in what they did remember. This powerful statistic illustrates the need to surround patients with a network of people and technology that help enable better communication and education.
For patients to best understand care protocols and adhere to treatment plans, they need support. They need an advocate to help them ask the right questions and properly understand their condition. They need a caregiver to help them get settled at home, go to the pharmacy, and bring them to their appointments if they cannot drive themselves. And finally, they need a coach who will encourage them to take the appropriate medication and follow treatment plans for proper recovery. The support of one or more individuals who can serve as an advocate, caregiver and coach makes fruitful patient engagement possible.
When such support is present, patient outcomes are better. The American Journal of Managed Care published a study, which found that patients who had a caregiver present during transitional periods, such as the discharge process where critical information is shared, were five times more likely to complete post-discharge activities aimed to keep patients healthy and aid in recovery. And when patients follow the care instructions, they are less likely to be readmitted or require more costly care and are much more likely to have a proper recovery that restores their quality of life.
So, just as a patient should not go through their episode of care alone, they should not be the only target for patient engagement strategies. As we look to provide a brand of engagement that genuinely drives more compliant behavior on the part of the patient, the strategies and tools that facilitate this engagement must encourage the involvement of advocates, caregivers and coaches in the patient’s episode of care as well as create meaningful connectivity amongst the patient and their care “team.”
About the Author
David Brown is the Chief Executive Officer and Founder of VOX Telehealth. He brings more than 20 years of entrepreneurial experience spanning several industries, including behavioral healthcare, technology, banking, and retail. Prior to founding VOX Telehealth, David spent 10 years overseeing patient engagement for a multi-state behavioral healthcare practice, and understands the importance of connectivity and programs that engage patients in a meaningful and effective way.
About VOX Telehealth
VOX Telehealth was founded to improve patient outcomes by redefining the patient experience and recovery model. Through a state-of-the art platform, VOX delivers procedure-specific, full episode-of-care engagement solutions that provide education, coordination, and monitoring through industry leading content, proprietary SmartTasks™ and a customizable alert escalation and notification system. Engaging the patient throughout their pre-op phase, as well as through transition of care and recovery, patients are connected and accountable, leading to greater satisfaction, improved outcomes, and reduced cost of care. For more information, visit www.voxtelehealth.com.